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Spinoff from Undercoat thread - large breed long hair adults hate/fear brushing WTD?

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  • Spinoff from Undercoat thread - large breed long hair adults hate/fear brushing WTD?

    The undercoat thread at first had me planning to go run out and buy a slicker brush but then it was brought up that they caused some dogs pain...

    My two large Caucasian Ovcharka's are already royal wimps about being brushed.

    Totally my fault, I should have gently introducing them to brushing as puppies. Instead I waited until they obviously needed it, then held them still & raked them out.

    Now, they are both too big to hold still!

    They are 2 & 3, both over 120 pounds. I manage by having a friend help me when he comes over - they like him and he is big enough to hold them still for me to get a bit of brushing done. But very soon they are unhappy & the male starts shaking & I call it quits.

    Or another friend helps hold while I snip out the inevitable under ear mats with scissors. Or on their annual vet visits the vet techs help me clip out the larger mats in their butts/hind legs.

    But I know its not enough! I came up with a plan to get some tranquilizer from vet, take them to pro groomer, let them rake them all out -

    Then back home try to introduce little, gentle brushing sessions with treats.

    Only a friend told me she did that (tranq & pro groomer) with a rough collie and not only was the dog worse after with grooming, its temperment changed for the worse!

    So what to do? Most of their bodies are okay - I can keep the back & ruff okay with petting & "finger" grooming, and snip out the ear mats with scissors when they come. But if I go near their butt/hinds with a tool of any kind, or get after the butt matts with my fingers, they instantly get panicky & go into escape mode.

    These are dogs that are my cuddle bunnies the rest of the time, easy to walk on lead, snuggle up with me on the sofa, let me take treats right from their mouth, so considering this is supposed to be a tough breed, the fact this brushing/grooming thing is the ONLY problem I have used to be a comfort. But it's starting to bother me. I know they should get more regular brushing for their health, and they'd just look more beautiful...

    Any advice?

  • #2
    have them heavily sedated and shaved down close?
    then spend the next few months slowly fixing the "I hate brushing" thing? maybe if there are no painful matts, and you have no urgency about it, you can do it slowly and gently and work up to a regular daily brushing session.


    • #3
      get a timer. Set the timer for 2 minutes, start the timer, brush gently. When the timer goes off, feed 2-3 treats and QUIT.

      repeat. often. like once per day.

      make the association a good one and totally forget the tranq. The tranq will often lower inhibitions and cause the dog to be more fearful/aggressive/problematic.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by wendy View Post
        have them heavily sedated and shaved down close?
        then spend the next few months slowly fixing the "I hate brushing" thing? maybe if there are no painful matts, and you have no urgency about it, you can do it slowly and gently and work up to a regular daily brushing session.
        Okay thanks for reminding me of this option, but I'll consider it a last resort - they are such *gorgeous* dogs it seems a sin to shave off all that beauty! If I can't get anywhere with other methods, I'll go this route.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
          get a timer. Set the timer for 2 minutes, start the timer, brush gently. When the timer goes off, feed 2-3 treats and QUIT.

          repeat. often. like once per day.

          make the association a good one and totally forget the tranq. The tranq will often lower inhibitions and cause the dog to be more fearful/aggressive/problematic.
          Okay I like the idea of the timer. Usually when I get up the nerve to brush, I try to get as much done as I can since I know it will be so traumatic for both of us I won't want to do it again soon! The 2 minutes & treat is a much better idea.

          And you are backing up what my friend with the collie said about the tranq, so guess that idea is out.


          • #6
            Just picked mine up from the groomer who says my guys are perfect for her and don't mind being brushed at all! When I do it they whimper, shake, cry, nip etc. Obviously there is a technique issue that I can't figure out. Pay someone that knows what they are doing and everyone is happy.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home


            • #7
              Get a grooming table with a noose. It's very different from just expecting them to stand still. For big dogs you can get a table with adjustable legs and lower it so you can reach them.

              Just start by giving them treats to be on the table - use a clicker if they are clicker trained.

              None of my dogs have ever *liked* being groomed, but they are very well behaved on the table. On the floor - forget about it.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks so much everyone. You've given me a lot of new ideas to try. My goal is to get them groomed beautifully somehow - either the 2 minutes at a time method by me, or by a pro - and then post links to pics of my loffly CO's as proof of my success.


                • #9
                  I second the idea of getting them to a patient, understanding pro-groomer. Sometimes it's just the anticipation of your projected anxiety/possibly nervous approach to the routine that makes the difference for the dog. My dad swore up and down that his lab wouldn't tolerate a nail trim. He went out of town for a long weekend and I was able to trim his nails without any issue whatsoever. Getting out the nail clippers, and doing it quickly without a big buildup made it a cakewalk.

                  Sometimes when your dogs are really bonded to you (as it sounds yours are), they can pick up on so much more than we let on. Finding a good pro groomer to do it for you, then slowly introduce positive, confident techniques might be just what you/they need!
                  Here today, gone tomorrow...


                  • #10
                    Wow, I googled the breed. Amazing dogs, and yeah, beautiful coats!

                    I've got pyrs, and frankly I take mine to the groomer. They have never enjoyed it, and there's no question that brushing out the light frizz under tail and flanks really hurts them. No wonder they don't like it much! You and the dogs both have their legitimate reasons for not tolerating this hair-pulling business. I'm tender headed myself, and hate having my hair done.

                    But, if I were going to work on grooming at home, first off I'd forget all idea of the end goal. Because if I think about the end goal, I will get in a hurry. So I'd just decide that for today, my goal was one tiny, half-second tug on a tuft of hair, in a non-tender place, just enough to create the sensation of a tug, and then POP, here's a really GREAT treat in your mouth and a hug, big guy.

                    And all you had to do was let me make that one tiny tug, that happened so fast you hardly even knew it.

                    (Personally, I clicker, so I'd use a click or a verbal marker to mark the moment of the tug, and that would help my dog understand that the treat was a result of the tug. But the tug/treat association will happen with consistency anyway.)

                    I'd do that a couple times, maybe over 48 hours or so. No big deal. Peaceful for all parties. I'd start to precede the tug by some ritual--perhaps calling Big Guy to the place where I'd eventually intend to do the *ssshhh* end goal.

                    Then I'd add the presence of the grooming tool. I wouldn't use it on him. I'd just have it with me when the tug/reward happened.

                    Somewhere in there, I might start to add in a tug now and then in a more tender spot. The more tender the spot, the bigger the jackpot. These aren't hard tugs, most of the time, but as everything remained relaxed, they might randomly be kinda hard, like getting your comb caught in a tangle. Not too many of these, and always followed with a deeeelicious, fabuloso treat.

                    You see where I'm going. It might take a month. But you would build up a very strong good association, for both of you, with the mild discomfort of the tugs. Eventually, you'd be able to tug all over. You'd be doing 4, 5, 10 tugs between each treat. You'd add in using the grooming tool, keeping it short and sweet. Then longer and deeper.

                    Go slow to go fast. Allow any tension or stiffness to relax before moving on. Think of it as a massage for both of you.

                    It's easy, really. But then you'll have to clean up all that fur.
                    Ring the bells that still can ring
                    Forget your perfect offering
                    There is a crack in everything
                    That's how the light gets in.


                    • #11
                      Diet can also have a significant effect on coat quality.

                      I'd be inclined to take them into a groomer who will be able to remove undercoat & cut out mats etc (especially any that may be close to the skin) & then work with brushing them at home.
                      When the coat is in good condition, you should be able to maintain it with only a few minutes daily brushing.


                      • #12
                        I was the poster citing negative reactions from dogs to slickers.

                        My Pap flees when I reach for any grooming item. When I first got this 7yo show dog, I had to corner & catch him if he saw me touch the grooming stuff. He would shiver, bite, and scream -before the brush touched him. If I held a comb, spray, or clippers in one hand and offered a treat in the other (in a confined space or on leash otherwise he was outta there), he would refuse and strain as far out of arm's reach as possible. He knew it was a 'trick.'

                        I was not as patient as I should have been because I felt pressure to take care of this dog properly, which included grooming. He visited his breeder, classes, and trials so I wanted him looking well-kept. Really silly and insecure of me.

                        I let him see that I am getting the brushes before I restrain him. I don't want him to be surprised. I do not know if that is the best strategy or not. Now I sit with him on the bed and watch TV while brushing and treating.

                        I feed very high value treats often. I sympathize with wanting to get it all over with while you are there. He got some mats. His nails got long. He stunk. But a year later, there is improvement.

                        Presently, he flees to his bed when I pick up a brush but no longer flees the main level, down the stairs, to cower at the front door . He does not shake. He does not bite or scream. He still automatically protests when I approach the ear fringe (Papillon) and tail.

                        This is a long, looooooong term project. Slow and steady wins this race.